Caribbean Stud Poker is a relatively new casino game, with somewhat debatable origins that stretch back to the 1980s. The early versions met with lukewarm success, but the introduction of a progressive side bet (and the promise of potential riches for players) caused it to become a staple at both land-based and online casinos.
In this article, we'll examine the rules of Caribbean Stud, as well as providing details on odds and suggested strategies. Once you've finished reading, you'll be more than prepared for a session at a leading online casino such as Bovada Casino.
How to Play Caribbean Stud
While Caribbean Stud Poker does share certain similarities with traditional poker, there are several major differences. This section summarizes the rules of the game so you can get started at your favorite online casino as soon as possible.
Just like other versions of poker, the objective is to create the best hand possible. Unlike other games, however, you only need to beat the dealer to receive a payout.
The player begins by putting down an ante. Keep in mind that the required amount differs by location, so always be sure to inquire about the minimum and maximum wagers before committing to a game. A progressive side bet is available but optional it usually costs $1. At the conclusion of the hand, this bonus pays out if the player has at least a flush.
Once all bets have been made, the player receives five face-down cards. The dealer also receives five, although one of his is turned upwards. Players then have a chance to examine their cards.
At this point, the player must decide whether to raise or fold. If they elect to fold, all wagers made so far are lost. Choosing to raise, meanwhile, requires the player to bet an amount equal to twice their ante.
Once the player has made their decision, the dealer turns over his four down cards. In order to qualify for the final stage of the game, the dealer's hand must either (a) contain an ace and king, or (b) make up a pair or better.
If the dealer fails to qualify, the ante bet of the player is paid and the raise is returned. In the case of a tie, both the ante and raise are considered a push.
Assuming the dealer qualifies, he compares his hand to the player's cards. If the dealer has a better hand, then the player loses his ante and raise. When the player's hand is superior, even money is paid out on the ante, and the following chart is used to determine the cash reward for the raise. Keep in mind that this pay table may differ depending on the casino.
One Pair or Less - 1 to 1
Two Pair - 2 to 1
Three of a Kind - 3 to 1
Straight - 4 to 1
Flush - 5 to 1
Full House - 7 to 1
Four of a Kind - 20 to 1
Straight Flush - 50 to 1
Royal Flush - 200 to 1
Once the payouts for the ante and raise have been resolved, players who chose to make the optional progressive wager will also have a chance to win money. Only five hands qualify for this payout, and this is entirely independent of the other table bets. For the purposes of this article, I'm using the listed Bovada payouts as an example.
Flush - $75
Full House - $100
Four of a Kind - $500
Straight Flush - 10% of the progressive
Royal Flush - 100% of the progressive (may rise over the million dollar mark)
Caribbean Stud Poker Odds
The objective of Caribbean Stud is to build the strongest hand possible, but what are your odds of getting some of the better card combinations? That's what this section intends to find out.
No Hand - On average, you'll get less than a pair once every two hands.
One Pair - Every two hands, you can also expect to build a hand that contains a pair.
Two Pair - The odds of achieving two pair are one in 21 hands.
Three of a Kind - This hand should appear once every 47 hands.
Straight - You can expect to get this one every 256 hands.
Flush - If you play 526 hands of Caribbean Stud, you can expect this hand to show up once.
Full House - This card combination should appear once every 694 hands.
Four of a Kind - You can expect this hand every 4,167 rounds of play.
Straight Flush - On average, a straight flush shows up once every 72,202 hands.
Royal Flush - The highest possible hand, this combination is dealt once every 649,351 hands.
What's the House Edge for Caribbean Stud
The overall house edge on real-money Caribbean Stud works out to 5.22%, which is better than keno, double zero roulette, and most slot machines. Unfortunately, the worst odds in the game involve the tempting progressive side bet, as the casino has a 26.46% advantage over the player.
However, there's one strategy that allows you to shave a couple of points off the house edge, and it's included in the next section.
Best Caribbean Stud Strategy
Since most players don't enjoy throwing money away, a number of strategies for Caribbean Stud Poker have sprung up over the years. Some are more useful than others, but all of these should either increase your enjoyment of the game or make you a more informed player.
- This strategy can reduce the overall house edge by as much as 2.3%. First of all, never play a hand that's less than A-K, and you should raise with a pair or better. If the dealer is showing a king or ace, always raise A-K-J or A-K-Q. If the dealer shows a two through queen, raise A-K or better if you have a matching card in your hand. Finally, raise A-K-J or A-K-Q if the dealer's up card is a two through five.
- There's no bluffing in this game. While some rookie players will be tempted to try, remember that the dealer always proceeds to a showdown when they meet the necessary criteria.
- Out of 100 hands, the dealer will receive a pair or better in about 41 of them.
- While there's nothing wrong with dropping a few dollars if the progressive jackpot is high enough, keep in mind that it's statistically a poor bet for players. It should also be noted that the progressive bet pays out even if the dealer fails to qualify.
Better Than the Lottery
Thanks to the progressive side bet, playing Caribbean Stud Poker for real money is a lot like trying your luck at the lottery. You can become a millionaire for just a $1 wager, and that's more than most poker variants can claim. And even if Lady Luck doesn't bless you with an instant fortune, the regular phase of the game still provides ample opportunities for increasing your bankroll.